delete your google browsing history while you still can.

The Daily Mail and Digital Journal offer step-by-step instructions (and the rationale) for deleting your history before March 1st. For those of you who haven’t seen it floating around Facebook (ht: Jenn, among others), here’s how you do it:

Continue reading “delete your google browsing history while you still can.”

food for thought from/re graham spanier

The below comes from my colleague Philip Cohen. (Spanier was president of Penn State from 1995 until yesterday):

Excerpts from Graham Spanier’s article: “Higher Education Administration: One Sociologist’s View,” Sociological Perspectives, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Summer, 1990), pp. 295-300,

I truly believe that it is something like athletic accomplishment. To be really good you must want to do it, be willing to make the sacrifice, put in the hours of preparation, and stick with it against sometimes great odds. But apart from such commitment, only some will move to positions at the highest level, because some basic personal characteristics must be there to begin with and they are not easily learned. The most dedicated athlete may simply not make the cut. Similarly, some faculty just aren’t cut out for administration, despite a keen interest in it.

Continued involvement in the profession doesn’t have to focus on the collection of original data. It can entail involvement in association leadership positions, an occasional book review, an essay of the sort that an “elder statesman” might write, and teaching a course from time to time. Such involvement is also good insurance. Administrative positions have always been vulnerable, and are increasingly so. Academics must preserve the opportunity to return to a productive role as a faculty member, not just the right to return to a tenured position.

My plea is not that administrators should have thick skins. Rather, one needs perspective. One must be prepared to feel bad, be able to survive it, and then bounce back quickly-very quickly-and get everything back on track. If you can’t handle the occasional attack, don’t subject yourself to it. (On the other hand, if this happens a lot you are probably doing something wrong and shouldn’t be in the job in the first place.)

Don’t accept an administrative position unless you are prepared to make every decision in relation to what is best for the institution. You should have your own agenda, of course, but every decision must be weighed in relation to the good of the university. The easy decision is often one that is not best for the department, college, or university in the long run. If you can’t make that tough decision, don’t take the job.

Administrators who are fearful of the consequences of a controversial or difficult decision often make the choice that is not in the best interests of the institution. Realism and compromise find their way into most tough situations, but above all, be committed to integrity and principle.

it was a lovely week, really

Despite my last post, life here in Fetnerville has been quite enjoyable lately. Given that our usual excitement consists of looking for worms after a rainstorm and watching Kid buckle his own seatbelt, it is tough to imagine so much happening in just a few days. We missed Easter completely, though throughout the weekend I was optimistic–“Husband, don’t let me forget to go to the grocery store. We need potatoes and veg.” I even defrosted the tofurky. Alas, it is still in the fridge. Continue reading “it was a lovely week, really”

vacation wrap-up: heading home

I’m sitting in the dark in our hotel room, as I have done every night this week. Kid’s bedtime is 8pm, and what is there to do besides sit quietly and read? I hadn’t even figured out that he can fall asleep with the computer glow on until last night. Before that, I was reading in the bathroom. My life is glamorous.

I come away from this trip with no complaints whatsoever, which is rather unusual for a visit home, even before my folks became ill. Now that I think about it, I haven’t kept the blog up to date on my folks; bad news is not my favorite to blog. Continue reading “vacation wrap-up: heading home”

vacation post: from san bruno

Whew! After my great trip in Denver, I spent half a day hanging out in the Denver airport, half a day flying to California, and half a day hanging out with my family. Does that add up to a day and a half? That’s what it feels like, anyway. Husband and Kid are flying in from O Canada, too, but their flight delay involved a firetruck and a change of planes. How exciting! Only two and a half more hours until they arrive. By then, I will somehow have managed to squish two full days into one.

Mom and Dad are doing okay. Continue reading “vacation post: from san bruno”

email victory

Way back in May, I reported my attempt to achieve the unthinkable: the zero message e-mail inbox. Mine had swollen to 1300 messages and I had to try to cut it down to get my sanity back. At this time of that report, it seemed like the goal was well within reach. I’d progressed all the way down to 18 messages and summer was about to arrive, ushering in a period of at least slightly diminished traffic. Alas, it was not meant to be. Despite working on this goal every single day since then, I have never been able to get there. A couple of weeks ago, I was flirting with victory and made it all the way down to only two messages–but then vacation struck, and although I read and dispensed with messages every day while traveling, the residue climbed, to 35, 42, 82, 99, and topped back out at 140. But Continue reading “email victory”

dong redux


I received my dental bill from Dr. Dong today. It was handwritten. Should I think this is weird? And, if weird, is it weird in a hipster-down-home-indie-dentist way, or just weird in a bad way?

Also: Dial Idol and the prediction markets still think that Scatterplot’s own David Cook is going to win American Idol despite the best efforts of the judges to crown his competitor, the sounds-great-until-you-realize-he-does-not-actually-have-a-soul and you-would-die-if-you-had-to-listen-to-an-entire-album-of-his David Archuleta. If they are right, my faith in democracy continues to swell. (Although I’m suspicious that the Dial Idol results are just a ruse intended to keep the outcome in suspense instead of Archuleta being the obvious winner.)

downed by the dishes

I’m out in sunny California, checking in on my folks and giving my sister a break from caregiving. Things here are much less chaotic than my last visit, when my mom was in a car accident. She’s much better now, and Mom & Dad have caregivers who drop by every day for cooking, laundry and errand running. It’s all working out very nicely, although my sister is on constant call, and my folks keep everyone on their toes with the sort of shenanigans that only those with dementia can think up.

I was so proud of myself flying out, letting my sister get a little vacation in, and taking over from the caregivers for a week. Knowing that I should let my folks keep as much independence as possible, I was happy to let my dad pitch in with the chores. But, it seems that last night, there were just too many dishes in the sink. Continue reading “downed by the dishes”

providence in portland.

My best friend, Laurie, lives in Portland, Oregon, worlds away from South Bend. We usually see each other during the summer, but this year there was a special treat – I’d be at the Pacific Sociological Association’s annual meeting in Portland – that would bring us together an extra time this year.

Laurie’s mom is dying. She has been for some time now. I haven’t been able to be there, physically, for Laurie at all and worried that I’d feel so far and helpless when her mom finally passed away. At Thanksgiving the doctors warned the end was near. Four weeks ago the hospice nurse gave her mom a week to live. She’s still holding on, but Laurie let me know this morning that her mom’s life is drawing to a close.

I leave tonight for Seattle and, after some family/friend time there, will take the train to Portland Thursday. Laurie and I were supposed to spend some time together before the meetings. We were supposed to hang out like we always do over coffee or Thai or wandering through the mall. We were supposed to walk together on the waterfront. For the first time in a long time, we’d have time alone, without our kids.

All our plans are now on hold, and likely out the window. I can’t help but feel like some other plan, though, is playing out just as intended.

adventures in new york

So this morning I’m calling to set up an appointment to get my hair cut.

Shamus: I need a hair cut.
Salon: Great! [Details…] Oh! And we’re having a special right now. With a hair cut you get a free make-up consult.
Shamus: Um… I’m single. [Meaning: there’s no one in my life who could use that]
Salon: PERFECT! This could be that extra thing to give you a boost in your dating life.
Shamus: Um… something tells me… [Interrupted]
Salon: You know, a lot of men are using make up to enhance their natural features. How old are you?
Shamus: Um…29
Salon: PERFECT! I mean, you’re much too young for a little nip/tuck! But you’ll find that eye liner and a little foundation can do wonders, and even hold off that knife for a few years.
Shamus: Um… something tells me you’re not the salon for me…
Salon: WHAT? We could be just what you need.
Shamus: If you met me, you’d realize how surreal this conversation is.

Continue reading “adventures in new york”


I have an old email account I check on occasion. Others sometimes mistype their own account and register for services using this email address. Most services ask for confirmation so there’s not much of a problem. In such cases I don’t confirm and that way the registration doesn’t really go through. Presumably the person eventually realizes this and registers with the correct address.

However, not all systems go through such verification. I just checked this account and noticed that someone has signed up on one of those social sites (you know, the ones like MySpace where you connect up with friends) and has since been accumulating numerous connections. I get a notification about both friend requests and friend acceptances requested by “me”. Continue reading “conflicted”